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Shiite Iran Aiding Sunni Hamas to Attack Israel: Editor

Shiite Iran Aiding Sunni Hamas to Attack Israel: Editor
(Ashraf Amra/APAimages/APA/Landov)

By    |   Wednesday, 22 April 2015 01:28 PM

Iran is the leading Shiite Muslim force in an increasingly brutal war with Sunni Muslim rivals in the Middle East, but that hasn't prevented Tehran from working hard to rebuild its relations with Hamas — the Sunni terror group that rules Gaza.

Con Coughlin, defense editor of Britain's Telegraph newspaper, reports that in recent months Iran's Revolutionary Guards have transferred tens of millions of dollars to Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassem brigades, the group's military wing.

Writing in a The Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Coughlin cites intelligence reports stating that the money has been transferred on the direct orders of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force.

The funds for Hamas — which have been transferred even as Iran is negotiating with the United States and other international powers on a deal to ensure its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes — go primarily to rebuild the group's network of underground tunnels destroyed by Israel in response to rocket attacks launched by Hamas against the Jewish State last summer, Coughlin writes.

The restoration of ties between the Revolutionary Guard and the Qassem brigades in Gaza is the latest example of Tehran's increased involvement across the Middle East, which thus far during 2015 has included the Quds Force supporting military operations in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen — all wars in which Iran is backing its Shiite allies against Sunni enemies.

But in the case of Hamas, Iran has shown it is prepared to set aside its animosity toward Sunnis in exchange for access to a southern base for launching attacks against Israel, Coughlin writes.

Until 2012, Tehran had supplied Hamas fighters with weapons and funding for more than a decade. But their relations deteriorated precipitously after a rift developed between Tehran and the Hamas leadership over Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

When Sunni Islamists launched a campaign to overthrow the Assad regime four years ago, Tehran deployed Revolutionary Guard operatives to Damascus to ensure that the Syrian dictator remained in power.

That action by Iran caused a falling out with Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas' political wing and a close ally of the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, "which supports many of the factions fighting to overthrow the Assad regime," Coughlin writes.

Because of the feud, Meshaal moved from Damascus to Qatar in 2012 and Doha replaced Tehran as Hamas' top financial backer, reportedly promising Hamas $1 billion for rebuilding Gaza after last summer's war with Israel.

But Meshaal, who has spent most of his life in relatively opulent conditions in exile while many Gazans live in poverty and squalor, has often clashed with leaders of the Qassem brigades.

Tehran has apparently moved to take advantage of the divisions within Hamas to revive its ties with the terror group's military wing.

The Revolutionary Guards are eager to strengthen ties with Hamas "because it gives them access to Israel’s southern border, in addition to the northern border with Lebanon, where Iran funds Hezbollah militants," Coughlin writes.

"Tehran is also willing to set aside its sectarian differences with Hamas because its Palestinian militants share the same long-term objectives as the ayatollahs: the complete destruction of the state of Israel."

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Iran is the leading Shiite Muslim force in an increasingly brutal war with Sunni Muslim rivals in the Middle East, but that hasn't prevented Tehran from working hard to rebuild its relations with Hamas - the Sunni terror group that rules Gaza.
iran, hamas, aid, israel, quds, revolutionary guards
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2015-28-22
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 01:28 PM
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